Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #22

Dear Ms. Sciuto,

HATE JACKET is a 67,000 word YA contemporary novel of life, love, pain, and one bad-a** jacket.

Seventeen year-old Julius Monroe is filled with hate. His job. His life. School. Everything. He hates his mom for abandoning him and his father for being an alcoholic monster. His patchwork jacket says it all with H-A-T-E embroidered on the sleeve.

Greg, captain of the football team and school bully, has it in for Julius and his eyesore of a jacket. Greg’s plan is simple: break Julius' heart and his face. Publicly. Things get complicated when the bait--Greg's girlfriend--decides to turn the tables on her controlling boyfriend. But when Greg ends up in the hospital, all eyes fall on Julius. Now, Julius must navigate a past shrouded in pain if he wants to change his future and find love instead of hate.

As an unrepentant bibliophile, I should be in a twelve-step program. Instead I found a home as a librarian and fill my days with words and an unhealthy obsession with caffeine.

I have two short stories recently published in the May 2013 issue of Mind’s Eye, a college literary journal, and Issue 11 of Veux Magazine, a Canadian fashion and literary magazine. I am also active on Twitter and my personal blog, where I talk about writing, life, and anything else I can think of, generates an average of 100 hits a day.

Thank you very much for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,
M.A.P.


HATE JACKET

I should have my own chair in here with bright neon letters that say, “This seat belongs to Julius Monroe, f*** up.”

Ms. Stevens--Sorry, Dr. Stevens, vice-principal extraordinaire--is staring at me with her usual b*****, disapproving look. Word has it she was supposed to be the principal. Guess the good ‘ol boys found someone they liked better and now she’s stuck at low woman on the totem pole. She takes it out on me, her favorite school loser, and anyone else with the misfortune of screwing up.

She stops talking and glares at me. I’m not paying attention and she knows it. The lines around her mouth deepen.

“What?” I ask in my best I don’t give a d*** voice.

If I push it enough, I wonder if I’ll get a vein to pop out of her head. That would be so awesome. Maybe break up the monotony of staring at the pictures of her kids while she rambles on about appropriate behavior and attire. I could have my a** exposed and my pants around my thighs and nobody would care, but wear a jacket with the word hate on it, and I get s*** on. H***, turn on the TV and you’ll see it. Kids getting murdered and raped on the way to school. Bombs blowing up families in war-torn countries. Guess people don’t want to be reminded that hatred is well and alive in the world.

“Mr. Monroe, that jacket is simply unacceptable.”

“It’s a personal expression.”

4 comments:

ami said...

I think I've seen this query before (and thought the story looks cool/interesting!) but it's been sharpened up a bit. It looks good--and I have a clear idea of what the story's going to be about. My only suggestion with the query is to put all your bio stuff in one paragraph and shorten it up to about two sentences.

The first 250 gives me a good idea of which the MC is and about the school and community he lives in--I like that! I did find there to be a couple places where, IMO, could omit or change things around to show instead of tell, but other than that it looks good!

Good Luck!

Agent Sara Sciuto said...

Well-written YA contemporary is hard to find so I was eager to read this query. The pitch kept my interest, but as I read I had the concern that this particular project might be a bit too "issuey" or depressing.

Unfortunately, when I get to the sample pages I did find the character voice to be a bit too unvarying grim. I know this character has problems right now, but at the end of the day readers need to have a connection to your character and want to know his story. I would be concerned that readers would have a hard time wanting to stay in this really negative character's head.

Also, yes, teens curse in real life but it doesn't necessarily need to be proportionately represented in a book. It's just pretty jarring and can alienate a lot of readers. Rather, use cursing sparingly, save it for when you MUST use a curse word. Overall though, I found the voice pretty strong and thought this a pretty polished query.

Nicole Zoltack said...

You have such a strong voice here. Sounds like a really gritty story. Best of luck with it!

Natasha M. Heck said...

Your character does have a strong voice. I really do think the swearing is a little overwhelming within the first 250 words. An angry character doesn't necessarily need to think in those terms in their internal dialogue. Actions or reactions can serve well in knowing what the character feels.

Great idea and premise. I'm curious to read on. The only thing that gave me pause in the query was your biography split into two paragraphs. I would suggest combining the two of them and watch for being too wordy. Good luck!